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Minnesota Man Proud Of Women's Boxing Olympic Debut

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Saturday is the final day of the U.S. Women's Boxing Trials in Spokane, Wash. The road to the 2012 London Olympics begins there for Olympic hopefuls.

The sport of women's boxing will make its Olympic debut this year and that has Dr. William "Bill" Paul from Minneapolis proud. He's called the founder of women's boxing and it all started in the Land of 10,000 lakes.

"We have 120 countries involved including Iraq, Iran, China, Afghanistan, the U.S. and Mexico etc, etc. Ladies from Muslim countries will be wearing head scarves," said Paul, president and founder of the Women's Boxing Association.

While attending the University of Minnesota-Duluth, he created women's boxing in 1975 and wrote the rules and regulations, which are still in use. Dr. Paul is a former U.S. Air Force Heavy Weight Boxing Champion. While training in Duluth in 1975, he was approached by a woman and asked if she could train.

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"I said okay come on out. About 45 females showed up," said Dr. Paul. "In 1978 in Minneapolis we had a chance to meet Muhammad Ali, Howard Cosell and Don King and many more. We went to the boxing match and wanted the women to participate and they said 'no'. So Ali got up there and started chanting 'PUT THOSE WOMEN ON THE CARD!'"

In 1978, he was able to get sanctioning for women's boxing, but still the Olympic committee wouldn't allow the sport. Decades later in 2009, the committee finally allowed the sport.

"The Olympic Committee had no other choice but to allow them to participate," said Dr. Paul. "As a matter of fact they beat out golf, rugby and many others sports."

Dr. Paul continues his work with boxing and sports medicine he helped create breast protectors for women and designed glove sizes, "All that came out of Minnesota," said Paul.

Now the gear is used all over the world.

The Spokane champions will represent the U.S. at the World Championships in China in May and from there the Olympics.

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